Hogan Lovells partner Robert Bennett has been hired as private counsel for Washington Mayor Vincent Gray, following allegations of misconduct during Gray's campaign raised by a former mayoral candidate, Sulaimon Brown.
Bennett, a veteran of high-profile political cases, was retained Wednesday evening.
“Based on my inquiries to date, the allegations against the mayor are outrageous and baseless,” Bennett (pictured left) said Friday. “We expect when the investigation is completed, he will be completely exonerated.”
Gray, when he was chairman of the D.C. Council, tapped Bennett on behalf of the city in 2009 to handle an investigation into allegations of misconduct by Councilman Marion Barry (Ward 8). Bennett, who was with Washington’s Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom at the time, handled that case on a pro bono basis for the city, but this time around he’s been hired as private counsel by Gray.
Sulaimon Brown has claimed he supported Gray in the 2010 election in exchange for money and the promise of a lucrative city job from Gray's campaign. The Washington Post reported in February that Brown had been hired by the city, a decision Gray initially defended. Brown was fired soon after other reports surfaced detailing Brown’s run-ins with the law, at which point he went public with his accusations against Gray and members of Gray's campaign staff.
The offices of the D.C. Attorney General and the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia have confirmed that they are looking into the allegations, along with the city’s Office of Campaign Finance and the FBI. In December, Bennett had recommended Gray, then the mayor-elect, nominate current D.C. Acting Attorney General Irvin Nathan.
Gray’s office did not immediately return a request for comment Friday, but he has denied any wrongdoing and has pledged a full investigation.